This weeks blog post is dedicated to Xanda the eldest son of Cecil the lion who was tragically killed. The entire blog is in support of our friends at WildCRU, who support the conservation of these animals & their remarkable Zimbabwean team. To support help in finding solutions & the threats they face.
More about Xander and WildCRU........
Xanda, aged six, was shot by a trophy hunter on 7th July just outside the boundries of Hwange National Park, close to where his father was killed two years prior.
WildCRU have called for a wider no-hunting zone around the park. Like his father, Xanda was being tracked by a team led by Professor David Macdonald and Dr Andrew Loveridge of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).
WildCRU have worked with the lions in Zimbabwe for almost two decades. They know that Xanda was born into the ‘Backpans pride’, the son of Cecil, the study lion made posthumously famous in 2015 through his death at the hands of American dentist Walter Palmer.
Xanda's collar was fitted by Dr Loveridge in October 2016. He was the pride male of a pride of three females and seven cubs and his movements were continuously tracked until his death. The pride’s home range spanned the National Park boundary and they spent considerable time outside the protection of the park. Xanda was shot 2km from the park boundary in the Ngamo Forest, an area were lions can be legally hunted on quota.
Dr Loveridge said: “Xanda was one of these gorgeous Kalahari lions, with a big mane, big body, beautiful condition - a very, very lovely animal. Personally, I think it is sad that anyone wants to shoot a lion, but there are people who will pay money to do that. I put the collar on Xanda last October and spent a bit of time following him around,” he said. “You have handled them so you feel a personal engagement with the animal.”
Professor Macdonald, Director of the WildCRU, added “Although it is heartbreakingly sad for us that this lion has been shot – and I can’t understand somebody taking pleasure in it - the episode shows just how important it is that we are working so intensively on the conservation of these animals, and documenting the threats they face. Indeed, donations we received following Cecil’s death enabled us to pay for Xanda’s tracking collar, to document his life and to support our remarkable Zimbabwean team dedicated to providing a scientific base for lion conservation.
The WildCRU team is now repeating their call for a five kilometre no-hunting zone around the park but there is a lot of resistance because a lot of the hunting happens right on the boundary.
Cecil’s death in July 2015 sparked international outrage and a flood of support for WildCRU’s conservation work. That support has enabled them to train a cadre of remarkably dedicated young Zimbabwean conservation biologists, and to extend the lion conservation project to new areas, and into Botswana.
WildCRU, based in the Recanati-Kaplan Centre at Oxford, is studying lions in various parts of Africa. Lion numbers are precariously low. WildCRU and its partners have estimated that there are fewer than 30,000 across the continent and in many parts of Africa their numbers are tumbling.
The team works on the lions of Hwange National Park. The goal is to understand the threats that lions face, and to use cutting-edge science to develop solutions to those threats. WildCRU’s work is also highly practical – its projects have included running an anti-poaching team, a local conservation theatre group, and an education campaign that gets information into every school in the district. The team also works with local farmers to help them live alongside lions and improve their livelihoods.
Professor David Macdonald concluded “Xanda’s death was almost two years to the day after Cecil’s, but I hope our sadness at this eerie coincidence can be balanced if this reinforces the global attention on lion conservation. And the Cecil Movement is, of course, not just about lions – lions are a metaphor for how humanity will live alongside all biodiversity in the 21st century: this is a huge question for our age”.
To donate to WildCRU and read more about the conservation of lions and wildlife conservation studies, please visit this link: DONATE TO WILDCRU
What we say.........
As a result of the current critical wildlife situation and the love we have for nature and animals, we created BornWild to not only change the way people travel but to enable us to help them through our work. It is just the beginning of what we want to achieve helping them thrive in the challenging world we live in today. Not only for environmental and educational perposes but for them. They deserve a place on this earth as much as we do.
Whilst we visited Africa and witnessed these magnificent animals in their natural habitat, we realised something poignant. Something deeply touching. That there is more to life than money, materialism and human greed. That humans are the number ones on this earth and everything is less important that us. But perhaps, we should take a moment to actually look towards them for examples of living and life. That a simple life where primary acts of love, freedom, exploration, loyalty, brother and sisterhood and listening to our instincts more could be the positive change we need to help not only this earth but us.
It makes us think of a quote from the late George Adamson................
'It was a thought which made me reflect that through civilized man has spent untold treasure on preserving ancient buildings and works of art fashioned by the hand of man, yet he destroys these creatures which typify the perfection of ageless beauty and grace. And he does so for no better reason than to boast of a prowess achieved by means of a weapon designed by man to destroy man , or to use his skin to grace his graceless abode'
You can join one of our up and coming trips - through every ticket sale we give to charities/foundations/studies like WildCRU to help Wild Animals thrive. Visit our trips page here ADVENTURES